Mike Ashley breaks silence on Rafa Benitez's Newcastle future

Mike Ashley has broken his silence on Rafa Benitez's Newcastle United future.

Ashley has congratulated Benitez and his players for finishing 10th in the Premier League.

Mike Ashley

Mike Ashley

The club’s owner, in a statement, has also said that he “hopes” Benitez – who has a year left on his contract – will stay at St James’s Park.

Ashley added that Benitez would get “every penny generated by the club” to improve his squad.

“I would like to thank Rafa Benitez for his magnificent achievement this season,” said Ashley, who put the club up for sale late last year.

“I would also like to applaud the players, led fantastically by the captain Jamaal Lascelles.

“On many occasions throughout the season, they have been described as a Championship side, which I personally consider to be derogatory.

“Rafa, as always, has my full support, and contrary to some media reports that portray me as a pantomime villain, I will continue to ensure that every penny generated by the club is available to him.

“I hope very much that Rafa will remain at Newcastle United.

“Finally, I would like to thank the fans for their unrivalled support of Rafa and the team throughout the season.”

Ashley issued the statement after this afternoon's 3-0 win over Chelsea.

Benitez’s representatives have had talks with United managing director Lee Charnley over a new contract and the club’s summer transfer budget.

United’s manager has been left disappointed by the club’s efforts in the last three transfer windows.

Benitez, keen for Newcastle to be competing for trophies and European football, wants to know if the club’s ambitions match his own.

Speaking last week, Benitez said: “The question is what we can achieve. This club has to be in the top 10.

“How? We have to do a lot of things right and to start making the right decisions now.”